Memories in the Kitchen

Casey - Apex, North Carolina
Entered on October 2, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, pleasure

“This I Believe”

Over the years, I’ve found that I connect some of both my good memories shared with family and friends and sad memories with particular foods that remind me of people or things, or a certain cooking experience. A strange perspective though it may be, I believe with a passion that this is true for many people other than myself, as well. Growing up, my friends and I or my family and I would cook together, and we got the satisfaction of enjoying the food afterwards. I vividly remember those Thanksgivings at my grandparent’s house and neighborhood cookouts that bring back happy memories from years past and time spent with the ones I love most. When everyone sits down at a table (or a picnic blanket) together for a delicious meal, it gives us a chance to talk about things and hear more about others.

A lot of my memories are based on holiday-related traditions, like special foods we cook, that I participate in with my family. Every Christmas, we make several different types of cookies, and we all ice and decorate them together. This is and has been a happy memory for me and I will treasure it always in continuing the family tradition of Christmas cookie decorating. I also remember Thanksgivings with my family. It’s a little different for every family since not everyone makes the same dishes. Usually, my family and I cook mashed potatoes, baked apples, squash casserole, stuffing, cranberries, string beans, and sweat tea to go along with the ever-lasting, country-wide turkey. What makes Thanksgiving so special and memorable are my family’s traditional dishes versus another family’s culture and tradition.

Many people have heart-warming memories as warm and cozy as the kitchen the dish was cooked in associated with some foods. It may be their “Grandma’s Famous Blackberry Cobbler” or their “Mama’s Homemade Macaroni and Cheese”. Whatever it is, if the dish were made by anyone other than that person or someone in the family used to the tradition, it would not be nearly the same. It wouldn’t necessarily be the flavor, but the sentimental factor itself. I am exactly the same way with my family’s “Apple Brown Betty”. Apple Brown Betty is delicious cinnamon baked granny smith apples with a thick, sweet crust of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Nobody can make it quite as good as my mom or grandma. I also have pleasant memories of making my family’s Chicken Pot Pie, which I still insist on making frequently. Those foods remind me of sweet, enjoyable times spent with my family that I love so much, and I’d never trade anything for those comforting memories.

Sadly, there are some foods I feel connected to by memories that touch a soft, lonely spot in my heart. It may not have any impact whatsoever on another person, but for me, however, it would create a mixture of both happy and sad memories simultaneously. My grandfather on my dad’s side used to make s’mores with my sister and I. Now that he is gone, whenever I make s’mores, I am very sad that he passed away, but at the same time, I am happy that I have those wonderful memories that I can withdraw each time I make a s’more. I even have a few memories about my grandmother’s cat that I’m actually able to connect with a biscuit. I always used to feed that cat pieces of my biscuit from under the dinner table since he loved them so much. Still, I remember and feel connected to him through such a small thing. It’s truly amazing how eating a simple biscuit was able to provoke such a vivid and powerful memory that made me cry a little on the inside.

I do believe with all my heart and soul that many people, including myself, have clear, special memories that they link to certain foods and traditions. They may warm the heart of one while they sadden the heart of another. Each person is significantly different in this way, which makes up a part of our originality. I believe those memories also keep part of the people or things you shared them with alive every time you eat the food that reminds you of them and how important they were and still are to you. I will let each one of these memories be special and personal to me, and I will hold them very close to my soul forever and always.